January 7th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Transition to Power: Presidential power lunch


President-elect Obama, President Bush, and the three living former presidents posed briefly for pictures before meeting privately at the White House Wednesday. (Getty Images)

(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama, President Bush and all of the surviving past presidents got together Wednesday for a historic meeting at the White House.

"One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country," Bush told Obama before lunch with the former presidents.

Bush and Obama were joined by Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Watch: 'We want you to succeed,' Pres. Bush tells Obama

Obama thanked the president for hosting them and said he was grateful for the opportunity to get "advice, good counsel and fellowship" from the group.

Obama's press secretary said the presidents had a "very constructive conversation" and Obama appreciated "the spirit of bipartisanship they showed" in wishing him success.

"The president and the former presidents had helpful advice on managing the office, as well as thoughts on the critical issues facing the country right now. The president-elect is anxious to stay in touch with all of them in the coming years," Robert Gibbs said.

Presidential historian Doug Brinkley said it's "very smart politics for Obama to keep a channel open" with the former presidents.

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soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Say Cheese

    Nice to see a little color in the picture!

    January 7, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Beverly

    I wish to leave a comment, CNN.
    OBAMA stands out beautifully among the other Presidents.
    Thank you CNN for accepting my comment.

    January 7, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Kevin B

    For those that still do not get it, the message for the American people is from this gathering of former Presidents and PE Obama.

    "We are not a red america or and blue america, we are the United States of America"

    The sooner the hyper partisian's understand this fact, the sooner the nation will begin to recover from the mess that we find ourselves in and begin to restore our nations greatness

    January 7, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. United we Stand

    These five men, gathering this day, should be a lesson to us all. United we stand, divided we fall.

    Thank you past, present and future. We will unite again, and the rest of the world will see what the american spirit can endure. What does not kill us, only makes us stronger. Stand up and be counted among the many that will bring this nation to yet another pinnacle!

    January 7, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. couple

    The picture is very Norman Rockwell, "Breaking Home Ties" with Obama looking a different direction than the past presidents. Interesting.

    January 7, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    I wish Bush would choke on a bone.

    January 7, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. I'm Not Missing The Old Mule & Winky Half-baked Alaska

    "We want you to succeed," Bush tells Obama ... The part of the conversation they left out ... "Because I didn't do squat for eight years."

    January 7, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Stacy

    Carter....smartest and yet the dumbest president this country has ever had. Hopefully, he kept his mouth shut. Everytime he opens it publicly he sticks his foot in it.

    January 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Kpawlak

    Chuck and Angie are very uninformed and ignorant.

    January 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Yakof Smirnoff

    Shouldn't George H.W. Bush have more grey hair?!??!!

    January 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Paul H

    I just love those generational pictures.

    January 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. IM

    DK: The caption reads "President-elect Obama, President Bush, and the three living former presidents" which would make 5...

    January 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. John Galt in Colorado

    Wow, some of the worst Presidents and PE's ever in one room. Clinton is an immoral intern molester, Carter is a liberal fart who destroyed our military and economy, both Bush's destroyed their own party from the inside out, and Obama is going to be the biggest scam artist of them all.

    January 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |

    What a heart touching picture. I could not agree more with a few other posts, President Elect Obama is a very handsome man! Bush don't look too bad either!

    January 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Patrick Anthony Drake/Atlanta

    I Love America!

    God Bless America.

    Love, Respect, Peace.

    January 7, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. America My Country

    This is a great picture to show the world.

    Let's cool it for 5 minutes and just enjoy the moment. Then we can go back to fighting, but for right now, this is pretty awesome.

    January 7, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. mj

    "Obama stands out beautifully, doesn't he?"

    I guess this man can do no wrong. Everything good will be attributed to him and all the bad will blamed on someone else. for the record evry president and done good and bad. just depends on which side of the fence the media is at the time.

    "THREE HAPPY DEMOCRATIC LEADERS WITH TWO MORONS." and the dems call everyone else hateful for calling names. You just try being president for one day. IDIOTS!!!

    January 7, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. Amy, KY

    What a historical picture and a memorable moment.

    Kudos to all the presidents for putting party politics aside.


    January 7, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. Virginia

    To Carol: "Looks as if they are having a good time together, but our new President is the cutest….he is surely a good looking guy." – this isn't about who looks the best, but who can do the best job. All of them have their good points as well as bad. We will find out MORE on 1/20 how many bad ones the new Prez has....scary!

    January 7, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Independent Voter

    what a handsome picture of the past, present and future!!

    God Bless America!

    January 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Viet Vet

    John Galt-Maybe you should move to China?

    January 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. Rainy

    Clearly.....B Obama looks the most Presidential of the lot.

    Wishing him the very best in cleaning up the mess being left behind.

    January 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. Kate, MO

    No matter what you might think of them, they're all alpha males. The most powerful men in the world. Everyone knows their names now and forever.

    January 7, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Blue is my favourite colour

    Obama is the best looking of the bunch!–hands down. Forget the other article about how much he'll age in 4 years.

    January 7, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Fish

    Hey Chuck:

    You are exactly what is wrong with this country.

    January 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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